Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Whole world retching

There are but a handful of pivotal events in a generation, like the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the assassination of John F. Kennedy, where you remember where you were and what you were doing when the news broke.

As for me, I am pretty sure I was taking a nap yesterday when the bustling global village stopped in its tracks so everyone could learn, via a live audio feed, whether Michael Jackson had been convicted of a host of child-molestation allegations. He wasn’t.

While the whole world was watching, I was drooling unawares on the new sofa at my sister-in-law’s house in a tiny town in Arizona, where they don’t have a telephone, don’t have an Internet connection, don’t have a television and didn’t happen to be listening to NPR. (You can get a newspaper by driving 10 minutes into town, which, owing to my demanding nap schedule, I wasn’t always inclined to do.)

For all the efforts of the 2,200 enterprising journalists attending the verdict, I was fully 24 hours late in learning from the enterprising New York Times that the newly acquitted Jacko had sworn off under-age sleepovers on the advice of no less a figure than the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

If only our media could bring the same level of enterprise to bear on the truly momentous issues of our day. But, hey, what can you do?

"It's just one of those events that people are connecting with," said Tom Bolton, the editor who published an eight-page Extra edition of the Santa Maria (CA) Times, the enterprising newspaper of record in the town that hosted the trial. "It's a piece of history."

Yes, the long-running coverage of this case was a piece of something. But not history.


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